If the modern secular state has depended for its conceptualisation on the related concept of 'religion' as a private right of faith in unseen mystical powers separated from the state, then so have those modern discourses which construct “political and socio-economic forces”, and are thereby in danger of reifying them, says Timothy Fitzgerald. He assesses some key arguments in Scott M. Thomas's widely praised book The Global Resurgence of Religion and the Transformation of International Relations: The Struggle for the Soul of the Twenty-First Century.
The breadth and quality of education universities once offered is now being seriously eroded by underfunding, says Dr Andrew W. Hass from the University of Stirling. But funding is not where the deeper crisis lies, he suggests. Cutbacks are just the symptom of a greater underlying problem. The real problem is an identity crisis. What is 'the university' for?
Sport is part of a cultural and economic system, but it does not have to be repressive, even though sometimes - not least from a gender perspective - it is, writes Colette Gilhooley. There are also interesting links to be made and observed between the discourses and practices of sport and religion.
A gathering of the Sociology of Religion Research Group of the British Sociological Association gives Professor Richard H. Robert an opportunity to discuss the shifting patterns concerning discourse about religion in academe, the secular intellectual environment and the paradigm of glocalism.
This week, the Church of Scotland has been discussing a specially commissioned report on Same Sex Relationships and the Ministry at its General Assembly in Edinburgh. Alison Jasper from the University of Stirling unpacks the issues, as part of the Critical Religion series.
Osama Bin Laden may be dead, but if Americans and Europeans now think that they can begin to relax over the prospect of ‘international terror’, they are very mistaken, says Michael Marten. US policy in particular is catastrophically misaligned in the Middle East, Africa and South East Asia. The 'clash of civilisations' thesis is also gravely misleading, and religion (not least Islam) is not implicated in all this in the way simplistic analyses presume.
BBC 2’s series, 'The Bible’s Buried Secrets', offers intriguing thoughts, but perhaps not as controversial as some of the promotional material would have it, says Alison Jasper. The world of biblical scholarship is broad and hospitable to different interpretations. And arguably, it is the essentially unanswerable but fertile questions that remain the Bible’s real buried treasure.
Questioning the coherence of the newly-initiated World Interfaith Harmony Week, Michael Marten says that if neither 'faith' nor 'religion' really serve as useful comparative or relational concepts, it is perhaps intellectually more honest, and practically more fruitful, to abandon the pretence of ‘interfaith’ dialogue in favour of simple ‘interhuman’ dialogue.